Rebranding and the Customer Experience

August 5, 2009
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In which Jill argues that rebranding is in the eye of the beholder.

'Grupo TACA' A321 Cabin by Aaron Escobar (via Flickr)

 “Watch your elbows! Coming through!” The outward briskness of the flight attendants is a physical manifestation of their collective intention, which is: “Let’s hurry up and feed these trapped masses so we can retreat to our jumpseats and read ‘OK!’.”

 “We have no implements,” a flight attendant replied when I asked for a spoon. I was 5 rows behind first class, where the tinkling of utensils was drowned out only by the clatter of the liquor cart rolling on its well-worn casters. The twitch at the corner of what was otherwise the straight line of her mouth betrayed her. We were both in on the ruse.

In an act of sheer passive-aggression, I stuffed all my dirty napkins into the seatback pocket, along with a dozen reply cards from various magazines—seven of them from a single issue of Vanity Fair—used the first-class restroom, and contemplated breaking the ultimate rule and texting some friends. I was in a bad mood, suggesting that the Stockholm syndrome is indeed alive and well at 35,000 feet.

Interestingly, this same airline recently rebranded. But rebranding is a hollow exercise if it’s not accompanied by

In which Jill argues that rebranding is in the eye of the beholder.

'Grupo TACA' A321 Cabin by Aaron Escobar (via Flickr)

 “Watch your elbows! Coming through!” The outward briskness of the flight attendants is a physical manifestation of their collective intention, which is: “Let’s hurry up and feed these trapped masses so we can retreat to our jumpseats and read ‘OK!’.”

 “We have no implements,” a flight attendant replied when I asked for a spoon. I was 5 rows behind first class, where the tinkling of utensils was drowned out only by the clatter of the liquor cart rolling on its well-worn casters. The twitch at the corner of what was otherwise the straight line of her mouth betrayed her. We were both in on the ruse.

In an act of sheer passive-aggression, I stuffed all my dirty napkins into the seatback pocket, along with a dozen reply cards from various magazines—seven of them from a single issue of Vanity Fair—used the first-class restroom, and contemplated breaking the ultimate rule and texting some friends. I was in a bad mood, suggesting that the Stockholm syndrome is indeed alive and well at 35,000 feet.

Interestingly, this same airline recently rebranded. But rebranding is a hollow exercise if it’s not accompanied by changes in the customer experience. A revamped logo and a signature cocktail in business class hardly count when the flight attendants continue to patrol the cabin like martinets. In the world of customer loyalty what counts is the way your behaviors change. And no, you may not have the entire can.

photo by Aaron Escobar (via Flickr)

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